In the midst of war in Ukraine, music brings comfort

Maksym, nine years old, says that “when I play the piano I forget about war.” As the conflict escalated in Ukraine, Maksym fled Eastern Ukraine with his brother and mother. He has been hiding in Lviv in western Ukraine since then.

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Maksym performed an impromptu rendition of the Ukrainian song Shchedryk in front of dozens upon dozens of children and women from Ukraine who had sought refuge at the Lviv Academic Theatre’s auditorium. The theatre serves as a refugee transit center for those fleeing conflict.

Maksym claims he was supposed play his first concert in this week’s “but they were shelling” and that he had to run. Maksym took a few items with him, including musical scores and a roll up silicone keyboard as the family fled.

Maksym’s mother says, “It’s both very sad and very strange that I’m spending nights on the ground of the theatre in this creative space.” As they travel towards Estonia, the theatre has been a refuge for them.

Maksym has found a way to escape, even briefly, from the horrors surrounding him through music.

The family isn’t sure when they will be able to go home. Maksym said he misses his family and wishes he could hug him father again. He is already imagining what he will do once the conflict is over and there is peace. He says, “I want to go back to the theatre to be a spectator and watch a play.”

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Maria Fled

Maria fled to safety when fighting broke out within hundreds of meters of her home. She says, “It was too risky to stay.” She said, “I did some work before, but now I don’t know what to do.” She is still waiting for a friend to come pick her up and bring them to Moldova. She is grateful that they are safe. However, the family’s future remains uncertain due to the endless tragedies of conflict.

Every family that arrives here has one priority: the children. Every mother has expressed her determination to make sure that their children have a bright future, despite having to leave their partners, husbands, and families behind.

Peace would make it much simpler and is urgently needed now.

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The rise in commodity prices has impacted household resources, putting children at greater risk of being exploited. In desperate situations, families have turned to child marriage as a way to cope with the increasing strain on their household resources. WE supports community-based protection efforts including mental health support services and psychosocial support services to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable children.

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While it is essential to provide emergency assistance in order to save lives, recurring climate events can also increase the long-term challenges faced with vulnerable families. WE supports efforts to make schools and health centres, as well as water and sanitation facilities, more resilient to environmental and climate shocks. Find out more about Our work in Somalia.